Innovative use of glulam and solid wood

The new main building at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala represents a breakthrough for the combination of glulam and solid wood as a whole when designing large buildings.

“The main challenge in this project was to make the stanchions a part of the expression. It has meant that we have had to be extremely accurate with all construction details, through concealing all installations and creating harmonic lines for the stanchions as well. All joints and joinings are hidden, all screws have been sunk and spackled, and all holes have been filled and sanded down,” explains architect Paul Kvanta from Ahrbom & Partner, who took part in drawing the building.

The building is shaped as a slightly askew square approx. 30 x 30 m in size with an entrance hall built around glulam stanchions. It's designed as a consecutive volume across three storeys with a common 1,000 m2 roof consisting of the “cassettes” that the glulam beams and solid wood beams form. Freely-hanging sound absorbers are attached to the cassettes.

The idea is to create a calm and harmonious, yet simultaneously monumental atmosphere, which is in line with its function as the main entrance to one of the country's foremost universities. The building has been named Ulls Hus.

For Moelven Töreboda AB, which has supplied the column/beam stanchions  – and solid wood in cooperation with Austrian company Mayr Meinhof – Ulls Hus has been a unique project.

“It contains few standard components. Nearly everything in the project is specially scaled with very large sizes and high beams. This has contributed to significant volumes. Combined, we have supplied 500 m3 of glulam and 3,000 m3 of solid wood,” says director of Moelven Töreboda, Johan Åhlén.

 “The fact that nearly all of the stanchions are visible has placed great demands on precision and work on details, and has made the finish particularly important,” he says.

  • FACTS: ULLS HUS
  • New main building at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • ​Workplace for 95 people. Contains 9 meeting rooms
  • Size: 24,000 m2 gross area.
  • Erected: 2012-2015
  • Architects: Ahrbom & Partner Arkitektkontor
  • ​​Designer: Bjerkings / Björn Johanson
  • Supplier of stanchions and solid wood: Moelven Töreboda AB
  • Client: Akademiska Hus in Uppsala

Two building systems – one building

In Nacka outside of Stockholm a six storey building with sheltered housing and a day care centre has been built by uniting Moelven's factory-built module system and Moelven's column and beam system Trä8.

Factory-built sheltered housing and day care centres are nothing new. Nor is the column and beam system Trä8, which was introduced in 2009. What is new is that the day care centre and sheltered housing in Nacka is being built using a combination of the two systems. It's a six-storey building, including cellar, with a day care centre at street level and flats on the four top floors.

 “The Trä8 system is used in a mid-section of the building and further up the floors are a dining room, common areas and staff quarters. This section is linked with two module-built structures with a total of 72 flats for the elderly,” says Moelven ByggModul's marketing manager, David Öberg.

Fredrik Ingmarsson, project manager at Moelven Töreboda AB, views the project as the beginning of something new: opportunities that previously have remained unexploited, and two businesses benefiting from each other's strengths.

“I'm convinced we'll see new opportunities when this building is finished,” he says.

David Öberg points out that the two businesses have extensive expertise that when combined open up completely new opportunities.

“With Trä8 we increase the degree of processing. This makes Moelven ByggModul and Moelven Töreboda a more comprehensive supplier, and means that we can approach new groups of customers and offer the market a completely new product,” he explains.

  • FACTS: Sheltered housing and day care centre in Nacka
  • ​Sheltered housing, 72 flats, 5,000 sqm
  • Day care centre with six sections, 1,000 sqm
  • Combination project with module buildings and column/beam system
  • Client: Senectus
  • Turnkey contractor: Moelven ByggModul AB
  • Ready for occupation in spring 2016

Urban housing concept

OBOS wanted to develop and build good and cost-effective homes in a market where the willingness to pay is determined by the price of used homes. The solution was to use module-based flats from Moelven, adapted to urban areas in growth.

The housing project Linåkeren in Hamar is a result of a collaboration between architect firm StudioNSW and Moelven Byggmodul AS, with housing giant OBOS as client. The housing coop comprises 27 flats with lifespan standards and is a part of the development of a new city district in Hamar.

The contract was signed with OBOS Nye Hjem AS, and Moelven is also turnkey contractor. The delivery also includes a parking cellar and all outdoor work, in addition to the actual modular building. The residential building is to be completed in 2016.

“This is a good solution with fully developed flats of various sizes with high quality. We have focused on becoming market leaders in terms of price and delivery times. I believe we have achieved this,” says sales manager Tormod Kvisler at Moelven ByggModul.

The project is the precursor to Moelven's new housing concept, where defined building blocks in the shape of modules can be combined into an infinite number of different types of buildings.

 “We've spent a lot of time with architects, real estate agents and clients in the development stage,” says director Lars Brede Aandstad at Moelven Byggmodul AS

He points out that important benefits are lower construction costs and shorter construction times. The building blocks can't be changed, but there is great flexibility with respect to façade and the building's expression, in addition to the usual choices with regard to kitchen, bathroom, flooring and so on.

 “We have a concept where we build according to the module's premises, which makes it very cost effective. It's about using the various building systems where they have their strengths, and modules are a good fit for this market segment.”

Glulam reaches new heights on Sognefjellet

The special architecture that now characterizes Sognefjellshytta at 1,400 m above sea level would not have been possible without glulam from Moelven.

A unique glulam structure now ties the existing buildings at Sognefjellshytta together as one. The traditional tourist cabin in Jotunheimen has been given a rugged main hall – which allows for close proximity to nature and the weather in the high mountains.

“We wanted to sew the two buildings together to create a new unity. We used each gable wall as the point of departure, and allowed the triangles to define the shape. The triangles are suitable for transformation into a different shape. It has become an encounter between glulam and these triangles,” says architect Jan Olav Jensen of Jensen & Skodvin.

In the roof structure the integrated triangles also allow the changeable weather and light to change the room's atmosphere.

“The roof structure is an abstraction of the Sognefjell weather. It creates a distinct atmosphere in the room, where light and shadow change like a film in fast forward,” he explains.

The architect is quite pleased with the result. And not least with the collaboration with the client, contractor and Moelven, who supplied the glulam structures.

“Moelven are interesting, and are not afraid to go along with new ideas, with no regrets. If we are to create new stories, which all cultures should take upon themselves, we completely depend on players like Moelven, who have invested in equipment, have the knowledge to use it and who are willing to do something else than they did yesterday.”

At Moelven Limtre AS they welcome such tasks.

“We're really pleased we have the opportunity to work on such special projects, so that people see how suitable glulam is, particularly with regard to unique architecture,” says project engineer Rolf Evensen of Moelven Limtre AS.

Environmentally-friendly decking from thermo-pine

Thermo-pine is made from quality pine and processed with extreme accuracy. Planing, drying and calibration is practically done by hand.

Choosing decking made from heat-treated wood has a number of benefits: It requires almost no maintenance and is a very rugged material with a great finish. Carpenter Oskar Dahl in Stathelle has built a number of cabins, houses and terraces on islands and close to the sea near Kragerø, and has more and more frequently used maintenance-friendly materials such as heat-treated wood.

  “Besides little maintenance, the greatest benefit is exact dimensions. These are also materials that are very resistant to bending, shrinkage and swelling. They are therefore particularly well suited for building terraces in a landscape that requires numerous joinings and adjustments in accordance with the terrain,” he explains.

On an extensive and complex terrace project with the outdoor area on a slope, he has used thermo-pine from Moelven.

  “The client wanted the outdoor area to constitute a whole and integrate with the terrain. In cooperation with the architect and cabin owner we therefore looked at what was possible to achieve in technical terms, and started to consider suitable materials,” Oskar Dahl says.

  The outdoor area has several different levels, with several steps and zones, and in line with the client's wishes the decking is completely level against the ground.

  “Working with decking that has the exact same size obviously makes that work easier. Thermo-pine is accurate to the last millimetre,” the carpenter points out, while also commending the finish.

Flexible office environment at DNB

No regular desk or own office, but many rooms, zones and meeting places suited to different tasks. At DNB in Bergen the new offices have boosted the organization.

When Norway's largest bank needed to co-locate its offices in the country's second largest city in 2013, 1,700 employees moved into the bank's shiny new building in Solheimsviken. The organisation of workplaces in the new offices was part of a larger change process in the company, and open-plan offices with free seating and a clean desk policy were the order of the day. How would the employees cope with this?

The offices are open plan, divided into departmental zones, meeting rooms, quiet rooms, an auditorium for 150 people, informal meeting places and so-called coffices – a coffee bar where people can sit and work together.

"Essentially, each team has its own zone and inside the zone you can sit where you like. This solution was chosen both in order to upgrade and rationalize, but we're not short on places. The idea was to have flexible solutions for organizational changes,” says Bendedicte Schilbred Fasmer, head of the Bergen office and the DNB business market in Western Norway.

For DNB's main office in Solheimsviken, Moelven Modus has supplied system interiors in oak to create meeting rooms, quiet rooms,the auditorium and cell offices, as well as two types of ceiling.

Marketing manager Svein Erik Berntzen explains that they are very familiar with so-called activity-controlled offices that DNB has chosen. The concept is that we no longer need the traditional office desk in the same way as before, but rather meeting places and workstations, where we can choose a zone or room depending on the activity in hand.

"We provide solutions for both activity-controlled offices and more traditional office environments, but we often see versions that combine the two: there are still some cell offices, but also several zones that are open-plan and more meeting rooms," he explains.

Berntzen points out that activity-controlled office environments are primarily a big city phenomenon.